What’s the merit of a piece of music that has just been written, recorded, and released, but doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before? Is there artistic worth to an album that is set to come out in the year 2016 but sounds as if it belongs to a scene that has only existed on the fringes since the mid 90’s, and doesn’t particularly do anything to advance the subgenre forward or put a fresh spin on any ideas? How important, really, is novelty to music? Every reviewer approaches the balance between originality and typicality differently: for some, the originality doesn’t matter in the face of musical quality; for others, hearing something that recalls older classics can put a huge damper on the music.
Ripper’s newest album, Experiment of Existence, certainly does draw references to older classics by much more established bands. Fitting right in line with the old-school death metal sound of the late 80s and early-to-mid 90s, it’s hard to hear any track on this album without visions of Death and Morbid Angel dancing through one’s head. That sentence has triggered one of two thoughts in your head, reader: either “oh, god, there’s already plenty of crappy throwback metal; why listen to this when I could hear the real deal?”, or, alternatively, “something new that’s reminiscent of early Death?! Don’t mind if I do!”
If you find yourself leaning more towards the realm of the first thought, don’t even bother listening to this album. Everything is 100% nostalgia value, 100% Scream Bloody Gore and Altars of Madness throwback, from the buzzsaw guitars, to the lightning-fast blast beats, to the vocals that make your throat hurt just listening to them. It’s 45 minutes of well-crafted, well-executed, and, just as importantly, well-produced thrashy death metal that harkens back to a time when the genre wasn’t entirely about flashy guitar work (not that there’s anything wrong with that, as long as it doesn’t replace substance) and how “trve” you are, but about a band’s ability to craft genuine, heartfelt songs that are dripping with misanthropy, anger, and violent energy. This is the Kung Fury of death metal albums: an over-the-top trip down memory lane that is a perfect example of what happens when a young, fresh mindset and nostalgic homage to an earlier era.
It’s with a mindset of quality over originality that one must go into this album should they wish to eke any enjoyment out of it, but don’t let that dissuade you into thinking this isn’t a record chock-full of bangers: just know that expecting anything revelatory in form out of this is going to lead to disappointment. However, if you’re ready to rock the hell out, Experiment of Existence is a great start to what promises to be a fantastic year of music.